The Paleo diet, or the Paleo “guideline” as we like to call it, is all about returning to a way of eating that closely resembles the one our ancestors naturally adapted to over the past 200,000 years. That means consuming whole foods like wild vegetables, grass-fed meat and in-season fruits.
Of course, a lot has changed since then, and the modern diet is loaded with preservatives and other obscure chemicals. So, it’s not surprising that diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity and hyperthyroidism came with this change. When you “go Paleo” you not only cut out all the toxic, processed foods that are making us sick, but you start eating real meals packed with nutrients. (If that sounds boring to you, we’ll have to disagree.)
After the first few weeks Paleo, many experience weight loss, more energy than they ever have before, and many other benefits that come with eating real, nourishing food.
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Here are 16 of the biggest benefits of the Paleo diet:
1. Squeaky-Clean Eating
The Paleo diet emphasizes clean eating, removing processed, unnatural foods and replacing them with whole ones. You won’t have to compromise flavor for health—in fact, the more whole, nourishing foods you eat, the less you’ll crave the bad stuff. This is not to say you can’t indulge, you’ll just do so with better-for-you options, like natural sweeteners low on the glycemic index, or higher-quality dark chocolate.
2. More Movement
There’s no one-size-fits-all fitness regimen particular to the Paleo lifestyle, but it does recommend incorporating movement into parts of your everyday life. Don’t isolate your exercise to an hour at the gym each day: walk, bike, hike, swim, dance—just move, preferably outside.
3. Reduced Inflammation
Inflammation, caused by damage to the lining of your digestive system, can cause increased sensitivity in your immune system. This triggers allergies, asthma, and more. The Paleo diet eliminates four major inflammation culprits: dairy, gluten, sugar, and alcohol. Learn more about anti-inflammatory foods here.
4. Fewer Cravings
The Paleo diet calls for an increase in the intake of protein and healthy fats compared to the typical Western diet, both of which promote satiety. Unlike other diets, you won’t end a meal feeling deprived, just satisfied.
5. A Healthier Gut
Your gut is your second brain: it houses the trillions of microbes, or gut flora, that help digest food, synthesize vitamins, boost your immune system and regulate metabolism. By removing foods that irritate this system and restoring it with foods that promote its health, the Paleo diet can contribute to a healthier gut.
6. Better Sleep
With a holistic approach to health, going Paleo treats your mind, body and soul. While your diet is important, so is your fitness and self-care. This includes adequate sleep hygiene. With a properly fueled body, you’ll be more inclined to sleep smarter.
7. Eat Amazing Food
Fajitas, stir fries, tater tots and even cinnamon rolls—the Paleo community is full of enterprising kitchen dwellers, cooking up new Paleo-friendly ideas all the time. If there’s anything to worry about on the Paleo diet, it’s not the quality of food.
8. More Nutrients
By eliminating filler foods like grains and legumes (which themselves slow the absorption of nutrients due to the presence of phytates), you’ll incorporate more nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds into your meals.
9. Better Mental Health
A healthy, balanced diet can do tremendous things for your mental health and wellness. Better nutrition breeds more energy, mental clarity and physical fitness. Coupled with better sleep, self-care and regular exercise, the Paleo diet can help you to cultivate a healthy headspace.
10. Digital Detox
Living primal means channeling our ancestors who never had a smartphone, iPad or laptop. The Paleo lifestyle encourages disconnecting from the bustle of the digital world and taking some time for you.
11. Leaner Physique
The Paleo diet’s relatively high consumption of animal protein fuels muscle mass. Coupled with weight lifting, the diet can target underdeveloped muscles and fat, cultivating a leaner, muscle-toned physique.
12. No Calorie Counting
Unlike other diets, the Paleo diet recognizes a person’s individuality—there’s no strict calorie-in, calorie-out figure that suits every individual, so why eat according to a metric? Rather than count calories, going Paleo encourages eating whole, natural foods until you’ve comfortably sated your hunger.
13. Fewer Toxins
Cutting out food additives, as the Paleo diet does, helps in reducing exposure to toxins. So does the increased consumption of antioxidant-rich vegetables, fruits and spices. Detoxification boosts your immune system, promoting healing from within.
14. More Energy
The Paleo diet encourages eating to live, not living to eat. Generally, you’re eating foods that fuel your body rather than plummet your energy levels—think eggs with spinach, bacon and salsa for breakfast, instead of a donut or pancake—leaving you with more energy to face the day.
15. Eco-Friendly Living
The Paleo diet encourages organic, local and seasonal eating as much as possible—not only is it better for you, but better for the environment and the farmers. As for meat, animals should be grass-fed and pasture-raised, giving the animal a better quality of life and your meat more flavor.
16. More Natural Solutions
If you can make the shift to eating Paleo, you’ll likely want to explore more ways you can incorporate Paleo principles into other facets of your life. You might pursue a more natural approach in cosmetics, cleaning, or even cooling your home!